Francis Liardet: Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c., 1849.

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On the best sail to bring a ship to anchor under.

It has appeared to me, that with a commanding breeze, the three top-sails, jib, and driver, are the most seamanlike sails to bring a ship to an anchor under. I advance this opinion with the greatest deference to many good officers who continually bring their ships to an anchor under a heavy press of sail, with the view of shortening all sail at once. No one can doubt the beauty of this evolution; it is one that astonishes all but the initiated; in reality it is frequently a manoeuvre of the greatest trickery, such as single top-sail sheets, clewing the top-sails up to the caps with burtons, stopping the hauling parts of the top-sails buntlines to the yards, so as to make the weight of the top-sail yards haul up the buntlines at the same time; and in this way the top-gallant yards clew up the royals, and the top-sail yards clew up the top-gallant sails, the clewlines being previously marked before being stopped, to allow for the different lengths of the masts, &c. If a ship take in all sail in the manner I have described, I ask any sailor, is it possible for that ship, with all her unnecessary gear, single top-sail sheets, &c., to make sail again as quickly, if required, as the ship which comes to an anchor under manageable sail, without the aid of trickery? If you add to the above, studding sails lying about the decks, with the frequent occurrence of carrying away anchors or cables, torn sails, and sometimes loss of life, &c. I have observed, that ships which practised this manoeuvre most, were generally those that were the most out of their station, and often obliged to unmoor to take up a fresh berth. A ship should take in her studding sails, royals, and flying jib, well together, and have her studding sails quickly in their places; next take in courses and top-gallant sails with a good clear run, furling the top-gallant sails immediately, then take up your berth under the three top-sails, jib, and driver, and, if you can, run your cable out without the assistance of your sails; take them all in together, to the word "Lower away," or "square away," minding to have the squaring marks of your lifts and braces in at the same moment. From what I have said, I do not wish to infer that in single ships the men should not frequently be practised in taking in all possible sail together. I only mean to observe, that in a Fleet, with a commanding breeze, ships will take up their stations better under their three top-sails, jib, and driver; and if they get into danger, they will be more manageable and more ready to make sail to get out of it. In ships where they are in the habit of making running moors with fresh way on the ship (though the defects in this mode of mooring a ship may not be observed in the anchors, cables, or on the copper at the time of weighing), still we think, if this subject were closely analysed, that it would be found that those vessels which continually practice this evolution, have had more casualties with their anchors or cables, than other ships not following this manoeuvre. It must be remembered that snubbing a vessel with a chain cable brings the strain more directly on the anchor, and that chain cables are more liable to injury from sudden jerks, than rope cables, more particularly when snubbed at a short scope with the force of a ship's fresh way.

When a ship is making a running moor, and happens from some accident to be brought up all standing, or greatly checked in running out her cables, it would perhaps be well to take an early opportunity of sighting the anchor and examining the cable.

Francis Liardet: Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c.
William Woodward, Portsea, 1849. 8vo, frontisp., (6), x, 319 pp, 1 col. plate of signals.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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Copyright © 1998 Lars Bruzelius.